Surgeon specializing in MIS comes to St. Rose Health Center
As one of only a few orthopedic surgeons between Kansas City and Denver that performs specialized spine techniques, Vivek Sharma, M.D., treats a wide range of back-related conditions.
Dr. Sharma recently started a monthly clinic at the Great Bend Healthcare Center, 1400 Polk. When the new St. Rose Health Center opens, his office will be in the St. Rose Specialty Clinic.
His home base is Hays Medical Center, which co-owns St. Rose with Centura Health. Dr. Sharma has been trained in minimally invasive spine (MIS) surgery.
Some patients seek Dr. Sharma’s advice for nagging back pain. Others have had more traditional spine operations with negative results. And still others have sciatica, compression fractures or other issues.
MIS benefits include: a small incision; preservation of muscle tissue; less blood loss; fewer blood transfusions; shorter hospital stays; less post-operative pain; faster recovery; and lower infection rate.
“We want to deal with the misconception that back surgery is a last resort,” Dr. Sharma said. “People think ‘this is the last thing I do before I go to the grave; I’ll be in bed six weeks.’ These things are not true.
“We have changed the way we deal with spines,” he continued. “MIS techniques are patient friendly. If you have a sports injury, for example, we will help you get up and around.”
Those who have had unsuccessful traditional spine operations may benefit from MIS, Dr. Sharma commented.
“We do revision surgeries for these patients and they appreciate MIS techniques the most,” Dr. Sharma said. “But we understand why someone may be apprehensive if traditional back surgeries haven’t solved a problem. MIS may not be the solution but in many cases we can fix you right up.”
Virtually anyone is a candidate for MIS; Dr. Sharma has performed it on patients ranging in age from 16 to 102. Of the more than 500 procedures he has performed in his five years at HaysMed, 90 percent involved MIS.
While HaysMed does not require referrals, some insurance policies require pre-approval. Dr. Sharma follows standard work-up procedures.
“We get a complete medical history, and take x-rays and MRIs,” he explained. “Then we determine whether MIS is the answer or not.”
Dr. Sharma noted that spine treatments could be outlined on the shape of a pyramid. At the base are those who need only physical therapy and anti-inflammatories; patients in the next area might need injections for pain management.
“Then there is the surgery level,” he said. “We evaluate for the best approach. There is no one MIS technique for all; it is individualized.”
Most people are hospitalized one or two nights after MIS and virtually all are up and about by the next day. Many don’t require a brace.
Some surgeons don’t employ MIS techniques because of the extensive training involved, Dr. Sharma said, noting it entails a “steep learning curve. There are some great surgeons who don’t use it.”
Another advantage to MIS is the microscope used during the procedure that allows up to 40 times magnification.
“It is a big surgery in a small hole,” Dr. Sharma said. “It has been compared to building a ship in a bottle.”
In addition, HaysMed conducts spinal monitoring during the surgery. A registered nurse watches a computer monitor and informs the doctor of any safety concerns.
“For example,” Dr. Sharma said, “the nurse might say there is no problem but that I am getting closer to a nerve.
“Some facilities don’t do this because of the additional expense,” the surgeon said. “But we need to invest in the safety of our patients. We go above and beyond, and safety is the number-one priority.”
Dr. Sharma earned his medical degree, and performed his rotating internship and residency at G.S. Medical College and K.E.M. Hospital at the University of Mumbai in Mumbai, India. His orthopedic residency was at the same university.
St. Rose specializes in primary care, and prevention and wellness. Services include St. Rose Family Medicine & Urgent Care, Great Bend Internists, imaging, infusion clinic, WellnessWorks, one-day surgical procedures, Golden Belt Home Health & Hospice and a comprehensive Specialty Clinic. St. Rose is co-owned by HaysMed and Centura Health.